Health and Medical
Acute vs. Chronic Pain: How Do They Compare?
Chronic pain affects 50 million Americans and causes $80 billion in lost wages every year. Pain is something that everyone has to deal with in their lives, but you may be unaware of how much it varies in intensity and length. The two main types of pain are acute and chronic, and they show themselves in contrasting ways. Understanding how pain can affect you in these different ways can allow you to have a better understanding of what is going on in your body and how to fix it. Read our guide below to learn the difference between acute vs. chronic pain.
What Is Considered Pain?Pain occurs when something hurts you and causes you discomfort. Generally, pain happens to let you know that something is wrong. While doctors can measure many other things, you are always the best judge of your pain level.
What Is Acute Pain?Acute pain generally has an identifiable and treatable cause. It is categorized as a sudden and intense pain that lasts less than six months. Acute pain is a message to your body that something has gone wrong and needs immediate attention. The cause of this pain is something specific, such as a broken ankle or a burned hand. Once the cause of the pain is treated, the pain will generally go away. This can happen quickly or last several months.
What Is Chronic Pain?Chronic pain is more complicated because it is not as easily diagnosed. This type of pain is categorized as ongoing pain that lasts more than six months. Chronic pain is caused by an underlying issue that surgery cannot always fix. Patients will often undergo a combination of treatments to help manage the pain, which has led to the importance of medication management. Common types of chronic pain include headaches, back pain, arthritis, nerve pain, cancer, and fibromyalgia. Patients are often prescribed topical ointments, anti-inflammatories, and medical marijuana as treatment options. Chronic pain patients are also eligible for injection treatments, which are a mixture of steroids and anesthetics. The various injections options include:
- Trigger Point Injections: helps relax tense, inflamed muscles
- Facet Joint Injections: helps reduce pain and ease sore joints in the spine
- Epidural Injections: helps reduce inflammation around the spinal cord